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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Christopher GUNNING (b.1944)
Concerto for piano and orchestra (2001) [28.52]
Storm (2003) [11.40]
Symphony No. 1 (2002) [24.57]
Olga Dudnik, piano
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Christopher Gunning (conductor)
recorded in Bratislava on 7-10 December 2003. DDD
ALBANY TROY686 [65.56]

 

Having listened to this disc, it came as no surprise to this reviewer to learn from the composer/conductor’s biography in the booklet notes, that Christopher Gunning is primarily a composer of music for film and television. The music is well crafted and the scoring clean-cut.

The central section of the dramatically vivid Storm colourfully reflects the title of the work (even it’s hard to banish thoughts of Britten’s Peter Grimes when listening to it). The musical language may be a little unvaried in places, so that there are times when it all veers dangerously toward the monotonous, but on the other hand there are exciting aural experiences to be had. Stravinsky occasionally comes to mind when the writing is at its most rhythmically vibrant (particularly in the piano concerto), but there is also no doubt that the music of his mentor Edmund Rubbra lies at the core of his approachable tonal idiom and its eloquent harmonic language. The symphony is in one through-composed movement, a loose-fitting garment in terms of its structure but nevertheless one which concentrates the mind for the most part.

Olga Dudnik gives an impressively energetic and commanding account of the piano concerto, while Gunning himself guides the Slovak Radio Orchestra through his music to produce committed performances of all three works.

An exhilarating disc, and one which will not disappoint.

Christopher Fifield



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